While the rest of the team enjoys a relaxing break next week, a select collection of Milwaukee Brewers will take the field in Denver on Tuesday for a franchise first: Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Josh Hader give the Crew three All-Star pitchers for the first time ever.
It’s a unique accomplishment, but this trio has a long way to go to become the best All-Star contingent in Brewers franchise history. On the other hand, if they simply show up in Denver, they’ll give Milwaukee a better showing than what happened in some lean years. What follows is a ranking of the five best and five worst groups of All-Star representatives in Brewers franchise history.
Before we get started, a quick note on methodology. This process involved a lot of math (which you can see here): Brewers All-Stars who appeared in the game were given full credit for their Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement as Brewers and half credit for WAR accumulated with other teams, while players who were selected but did not appear were evaluated the same way, then reduced by 50 percent. Then, when we were done, we put our thumb on the scale a bit.
Top 5 All-Star Contingents In Brewers History
5. Jesus Aguilar, Lorenzo Cain, Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, and Christian Yelich (2018)
This group is still accumulating value, of course, as these players are still active. The fifth participant was a late addition, as Jesus Aguilar was selected following an intense campaign in the race for the “Final Vote.” All five appeared in the game, the only time the Brewers have had five participants to this point.
Their performance in the game was something of a mixed bag: Christian Yelich homered off Charlie Morton in the eighth inning, becoming just the second Brewer ever to go deep in a Midsummer Classic (more on the other one in a moment), while Jeremy Jeffress worked a scoreless sixth inning. This day was also something of a career turning point for Josh Hader, however, who gave up three runs in the eighth inning of the contest while fans went back into his Twitter feed and discovered awful things he had said as a 17-year-old in 2011 and 2012.
4. George Scott, Hank Aaron (1975)
Hank Aaron’s 25th and final appearance in the All-Star Game (hosted by the Brewers at County Stadium) was also his only one as a Brewer. The previous 24, including two each from 1959-62, all came as a member of the Braves (both Milwaukee and Atlanta). His 72nd and final All-Star plate appearance—the second most all-time—came in the second inning, when he lined out to shortstop as a pinch hitter.
Aaron was joined in the game by first baseman George Scott, who had won a Gold Glove in each of the last four seasons, but was making his first All-Star appearance since his rookie season with the Red Sox in 1966. Scott, who would lead the American League in both home runs (36) and RBI (109) that season, entered the game as a defensive replacement at first base and went 0-for-2.
3. Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers, Cecil Cooper, and Ben Oglivie (1982)
En route to his first American League MVP Award, his first Gold Glove, and his second Silver Slugger Award, Robin Yount started the All-Star Game at shortstop for the first time and batted one spot behind Cooper, who was playing in the game for the third time in four years and replaced Angels legend Rod Carew in the lineup. That duo was joined by another future Hall of Famer in Rollie Fingers, with Ben Oglivie rounding out the group. All told, this group had the #1, 4, 13, and 28 Brewers on our ranking of the best players in franchise history from last spring.
What they didn’t have, however, was much success in the game. Yount, Cooper, and Oglivie combined to go 1-for-6 in the contest, and Fingers mopped up the final inning in the AL’s 4-1 loss.
2. Yount, Cooper, Oglivie, and Ted Simmons (1983)
Three of the Brewers that represented the team in the 1982 contest were back again in 1983, and they were joined by another future Hall of Famer in catcher Ted Simmons. The duo of Simmons and Yount gave the Brewers two elected starters for the first time in franchise history.
Yount was in the middle of a big inning in the third as Giants pitcher Atlee Hammaker intentionally walked him to load the bases for outfielder Fred Lynn. Lynn hit a grand slam, blowing the game open as the AL scored seven times in the inning and went on to win 13-3. That intentional walk would be, as it turned out, the final All-Star plate appearance of Yount’s career.
1. Yount, Cooper, Oglivie, and Paul Molitor (1980)
Robin Yount and Paul Molitor played together in more than 1,000 games during their time with the Brewers but were announced together at the All-Star Game just one time, at Dodger Stadium in 1980 when they were both selected to the Midsummer Classic for the first time.
Molitor did not appear in the game, however, so the most dynamic duo in Brewers franchise history never had an All-Star moment together. The three Brewers that did get into the contest (including Ben Oglivie, who started in left field) combined to go 0-for-5 in the game.
• The 2011 Brewers had three players elected to start the game for the first time in franchise history: Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and Ryan Braun (who did not appear in the game). Fielder’s homer in the contest made him the first Brewer ever to do so.
• The 1985 team just missed the cut on this list, with Cecil Cooper and Paul Molitor making their fifth and second appearances, respectively. Cooper was playing in the game for the final time, while Molitor would appear on the roster three more times as a Brewer and twice as a Blue Jay.
• The 1978 mid-summer classic included a bunch of firsts, as Don Money gave the Brewers their first ASG starter, Larry Hisle gave them their first hit and pitcher Lary Sorensen gave them three players selected, also for the first time.
5 All-Star Contingents In Brewers History
5. Tommy Harper (1970)
Tommy Harper was the Brewers’ first All-Star and a legitimate star. In 1969, he set a franchise record that stands to this day by stealing 73 bases. And in 1970, he was on his way to a 30-30 season, a feat no Brewer would match for decades. He’s too good of a player to be on “worst of” lists, but he belongs on this one because he had a uniquely rough game in ASG history.
Harper, the Brewers’ lone selection in their first season in Milwaukee, openly told reporters he didn’t want to go. Eventually convinced to make the trip, he entered the game as a pinch runner for future Hall Of Famer Harmon Killebrew and was promptly caught stealing. The next inning he was removed for a defensive replacement, making him the only All-Star ever to enter a game as a pinch runner, get caught stealing, and leave.
4. Fernando Vina (1998)
The first Brewer ever selected as a National League All-Star didn’t exactly set the bar high for future years. Vina was having a career year in 1998 but came into the All-Star Game as a career .277 hitter with a .343 on-base and .376 slugging. Improbably, Vina reached base in both of his plate appearances in the contest, singling to left field in the sixth inning and walking against Tom “Flash” Gordon in the eighth.
Vina’s day went south after that walk, however. He was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a single and committed an error in the ninth that allowed the AL to plate two unearned runs and ice an eventual 13-8 victory.
3. Ellie Rodriguez (1972)
After Harper’s aforementioned base running adventure in the 1970 game, it was three years before AL managers let another Brewer actually play in the All-Star Game at all. In 1971, the Brewers sent young catcher Darrell Porter to the game and he rode the bench for the entire contest, and it was catcher Ellie Rodriguez’s turn to ride the pine in 1972.
Despite being a career .231 hitter with a .326 on-base and .289 slugging, this was Rodriguez’s second All-Star selection: He was also the lone selection for the expansion Royals in 1969, and he didn’t get to play in that game either.
2. Ricky Bones (1994)
Ricky Bones logged 11 seasons in the majors during a tough pitching era, and his 4.85 ERA over that time was only slightly below league average. He was extremely overmatched as an All-Star, however, and in 1994, he was the only Brewer selected.
Bones had pitched just three days before the 1994 game, giving up eight runs to the White Sox and logging 131 pitches. That outing extended him to 376 pitches thrown in a span of 11 days. Perhaps fearing his arm would simply fall off, AL manager Cito Gaston did not use Bones in the game even though it went to extras. The NL won 8-7 in 10 innings.
1. Corey Knebel (2017)
The 2017 Brewers were a good team, especially at the All-Star break. They wrapped up the first half with a 50-41 record and a 5 ½ game lead in the NL Central, but that did not translate to All-Star selections: When Ryan Braun didn’t win the Final Vote, Knebel was left as the Brewers’ lone representative. At that point, he was still relatively new as the team’s closer. He hadn’t been installed in the role until May of that season and had logged just 16 saves in his MLB career.
Adding insult to injury, however, Cubs manager Joe Maddon never put the only Brewer on his roster into the game. Maddon used nine pitchers to cover 10 innings, but Knebel was not one of them. Cubs closer Wade Davis gave up a home run in the tenth to propel the American League to a 2-1 victory.
• The Brewers’ All-Star representatives all also did not appear in the game in 1990 (Dave Parker), 1996 (Greg Vaughn) and 1977 (Jim Slaton and Don Money).
• In 1989 (Dan Plesac) and 2001 (Ben Sheets), the Brewers’ representatives were each a pitcher who only faced one batter. Plesac allowed a hit to his opposing hitter, while Sheets got his to fly out. That was Plesac’s final All-Star Game, and Sheets’ first.
• In 2000, the Brewers’ lone representative was closer Bob Wickman. He worked a scoreless eighth inning and the Brewers even printed a poster to celebrate his accomplishment. They then traded him away the day before the scheduled giveaway.